Ford has big ambitions for Lincoln in the Chinese marketplace. CEO Mark Fields has said that China could eclipse the U.S. as the biggest market for the luxury brand. During the first year of selling vehicles in the country, Lincoln moved over 11,000 vehicles. According to Fields, this is the fastest start for a luxury-auto brand there “in recent history.”
“It’s different in the U.S. than in China. In China, our heritage plays very strong. Our favorable opinion in China is actually ahead of Lexus and on the factor of prestige, we’re actually ahead of Audi,” said Kumar Galhotra, head of Lincoln.
Ford wants to take the next step and possibly start building Lincolns in China. Bloomberg has learned from sources that the blue oval is in talks with its partner in China, Changan Automobile Group. The possible location is in Chongqing and would serve the Chinese market, along with acting as an Asian export base. One source says production could begin as early as 2018, but another says it could be 2020 or later as these discussions are still in the preliminary phase.
“There’s no detailed plan at the moment” on producing the Lincoln brand in China, said Zhu Huarong, president of Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. on the sidelines of a fourm earlier this week.